A rush of tenuous joy
attacks the statue of Saddam
now hollow and approachable.
Iraqis spit and throw old shoes.
Roads of dust are wearing
signs of renaissance rising
to meet the gluttonous smoke
of battle as it’s winding down.

From citadels of easy street,
it’s strange to witness such applause
as tanks roll in to stake their ground.
Then again, I haven’t seen my brother
hanged in circles of a village square.
Blend this with the tortured voice of a man
imprisoned for eight long years,
beaten and burned for “praying too much.”

“Let me take you on a tour …”
he rails to a camera lens.
A warren of cells, no light, just filth,
a cockroach train for company.
This is just a trickling of mud along
the River Styx applied to earth
by terror’s heavy choking hands.
If horror has a Louvre,
these would be the hallowed halls.
Human contact was a whip.

No wonder men are kissing
soldiers on the cheek, clapping
to the sounds of music
right behind the bullet fire.
There were souls of sacrifice
who didn’t stay at home —
in labyrinths of their
comfort zones — did not leave
this bruise of pooled blood
to fill the oceans of the East.

*First Published in Poetry Magazine.com

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